Chelsea win leaves Arsenal feeling blue
Didier Drogba's double returned Chelsea to the Premier League summit with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal, on Sunday, that left its London rival nine points adrift.
The Ivory Coast forward scored both goals inside 23 minutes, and Chelsea then successfully contained Arsenal at Stamford Bridge despite the Gunners enjoying the majority of possession in the second half.
"Didier is in a good moment, he's come back from the African Cup with fantastic motivation," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said.
"The game was not easy because Arsenal played fantastic attacking football. We deserved to win because you can't speak about a match only about the possession. Maybe they did have more possession than us, but football is about attack and defence."
For all their intricate play, the third-place, Gunners lacked a cutting edge, just like last Sunday when they were dismantled by Manchester United.
"It is difficult to swallow a defeat like that when we felt we were the better team," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Arsenal is seven points behind second-place Manchester United, which briefly returned to the top Saturday by routing Portsmouth 5-0.
"We are outsiders," Wenger said. "But we will fight until the last day of the season. I believe everyone can drop points."
Wenger was furious after Chelsea's opener, kicking his coat on the touchline and being reprimanded by the fourth official. The Frenchman became more incensed when Arsenal squandered a golden chance to level in the 17th minute. Cesc Fabregas floated a cross over Ricardo Carvalho to Andrei Arshavin, but the Russian forward's volley was blocked by Petr Cech with his left boot.
There was a growing threat from Arsenal, but as the visitors pushed forward they left themselves exposed and were caught on the counterattack when Frank Lampard charged forward with the ball from inside his own half, before slipping the ball through to Drogba.
The Ivory Coast forward cut inside and then smashed the ball past Manuel Almunia with his left foot to score his 12th goal in 10 matches against Arsenal.
Lots of possession
Arsenal continued to have lots of possession, but Cech never looked seriously threatened. Fabregas shot wide and Gael Clichy missed the target from 30 meters (yards) before halftime.
"We didn't get a demonstration of football (from Chelsea) but they were efficient," Wenger said. "We had a mountain of possession and couldn't transform it into goals."
Drogba almost completed his hat trick late in the game but his free-kick crashed against the crossbar as Chelsea extended its unbeaten home run to 24 matches, last losing at Stamford Bridge to Arsenal in November 2008.
Chelsea's win would appear to have put the Premier League title out of reach for Arsenal.
Wenger's side had put themselves back in contention by clawing back an 11-point deficit after a 3-0 home loss to Chelsea in November, and even had a brief spell at the top of the standings.
Now the north London club needs to beat a rejuvenated Liverpool on Wednesday to prevent the fourth-place team moving to within two points of third.